Kristina Etter   |   April 17, 2020

Hemp Industry Prime for Post-Pandemic Growth

Cannabis Tech spoke with Bruce Perlowin, CEO and founder of Hemp Inc., to peer into the crystal ball and provide insight for the hemp industry in these highly unpredictable times.
Before becoming a freelance cannabis journalist, Kristina Etter spent 20 years in corporate IT with a niche in mobile technology. Today, she combines her love of technology with a passion for the cannabis industry as the Editorial Content…

With an admittedly colorful history smuggling marijuana, Perlowin has been involved in the cannabis and hemp sectors for most of his life. At the center of CNBC’s 2009 documentary, “Marijuana, Inc.,” the publicity from the documentary eventually led to the creation of Medical Marijuana, Inc., the first company in the United States to go public under the symbol MJNA.

Today, as a pioneer in both industries, Perlowin and his Hemp Inc. (OTC: HEMP) believe now is the time to rejuvenate America’s love for hemp. “We’re now about ten years old as a public company, and I, like a lot of people, have been fascinated with all the different things we can do with hemp. From building your house to [making] clothing and hemp plastics, I see hemp as a much greater opportunity with a biodiverse line of products.”

Running the largest hemp processing facility in the western hemisphere, Perlowin warns, before the hemp revolution can happen, the infrastructure must first be in place. “We don’t need one or two [processing facilities], we need two-hundred of them in America.”

Hemp Inc. Helps Prevent Million-Dollar Mistakes

This demand is precisely the motivation behind his approach to business. Perlowin wants to see the industry succeed, and while he admits a little friendly competition can be fun, he prefers to call his method “coopetition.”

He believes that by helping each other, the collective will benefit in the long run. For example, he said, “If you’re growing hemp next to another hemp grower and they develop mites, you’re going to want to help them, so you don’t get mites in your crop.”

“We’re a bunch of people working together instead of one giant company. I don’t believe in that hierarchical model. We are here to help each other. We host Hemp University events to train people on how to grow hemp. We help with seeds. We help with consulting,” Perlowin explained. By working together, sharing experiences and expertise, Perlowin and Hemp Inc. hope to help the industry continue to proliferate.

Hemp farming isn’t as easy as it seems, and some nuances can challenge any newcomer. Perlowin mentioned, frequently new farmers bite off more than they can chew. He said, “I hear people saying they want to grow 5,000 or 10,000 acres. However, just 40 acres is nearly 80 linear miles. How are you going to walk 80 linear miles each day to look for a male plant or a leak in your irrigation? And, at 5,000 acres, I ask ‘Where are you going to get the 3 million square feet you need to dry it in?’”

In the end, Perlowin describes these problems as million-dollar mistakes, “You have to know everything from how you plan to grow to how you go to market, and if you don’t do every single one of those right, you’re going to crash and burn. Sixty-five to seventy-five percent of the hemp grown in America last year never made it to market.”

Legal Hemp is SBA Approved

Because hemp farming is federally legal, Perlowin reminded SBA loans and federal assistance through the US Government are available for hemp farmers, too. “We qualify for these SBA loans and everything that’s in the relief package,” he stated.

Unlike hemp, legal cannabis and even the supporting businesses have been denied the ability to apply for any small business assistance in the wake of coronavirus. However, shining a glimmer of hope for his cannabis colleagues, he added, “I believe there will be more help coming [from the federal government] that will include tax benefits for legal cannabis businesses.”

Perlowin explained, “I believe our industry is critical to the health of America, not just for CBD, but for clothing, food, bio-plastics, and hempcrete homes. Housing, clothing, and food are basic necessities, and hemp can provide them all.”

Speaking of post-pandemic opportunities, he noted that this should be a kick-starter for domestic manufacturing. “A lot of things that we used to get overseas, we’re no longer going to be able to get, from pharmaceuticals to many China-made products like ventilators and other equipment, and this should serve as a call for domestic production,” Perlowin said.

Hemp Inc. used to order packaging from China, now, Perlowin stated, “We just ordered 300,000 tubes for our pre-rolls from an American manufacturer, so we’re already making that switch as a company.”

The Foresight of a Revolution

Interestingly, Perlowin, like many visionaries, believes the pandemic could be the start of a new era. A cataclysmic event that forces the hand of humanity to explore new perspectives. “I always predicted that hemp would create a new avenue for industrial agriculture. A new clean and green industrial, agricultural, American revolution, and that’s what we’re looking at,” Perlowin theorized.

Forever the optimist, Perlowin believes in the silver-lining. “People are communicating more, despite social distancing, we’re taking the time to reach out to friends and text people maybe we haven’t been in touch with in a while.”

“And that’s just one element; many people are reading books or starting gardens. Plus, our new emerging heroes are the doctors and nurses. There are millions and millions of little things that are changing our world,” he added. “I think we must try to pull the lessons from this and change what we’re doing wrong; with that, we have more opportunity for long-term survival.”

 

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